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Shatner Dishes on His (Fake) Feud With J.J. Abrams

Science fiction stalwart William Shatner talks about his new interview show, Raw Nerve, says goodbye to Boston Legal, and explains the truth behind his feud with J.J. Abrams.

Q: Why did you decide to host an interview show?

A: Over the years there have been many people I would have liked to talk to, people like Marlin Brando or Laurence Olivier, and I thought it was short-sighted of me not to make an approach. But I was too shy and lacked the courage, and then they passed away. So with this show, I’m able to talk to people I’m interested in and have that conversation.

Q: Who’s been your favorite interview so far?

A: Well they’re all good, and I don’t want to put the word “favorite” on it. But things that come to mind? Jenna Jameson — whose name you may know.

Q: Now why would I know that?

A: Yeah, how would you know that? [Laughs]. She was a porn star, but she’s moving into the mainstream. She’s quite a character and quite an entrepreneur. Her childhood is extraordinary, and I got her to talk about that.

Q: Boston Legal ended last week. How does it feel?

A: This morning I woke up and wondered, if I drove down to the studio, would someone come and bring me coffee like they usually do? Would there be enough people to go on the stage and shoot something? When an affair is over, when you can’t believe the girl is gone, you make believe that she’ll be at the coffee shop you’ve always gone to. It was that kind of thing.

Q: Your series of scifi novels, TekWar, is being adapted into a comic book. 

A: Bluewater comics is bringing out four of my properties this coming year, the main one being TekWar. We’ve got 22 editions of it and it’s looking good. I have high hopes for these: They should be interesting reading, and colorful.

Q: Is this your first experience with comics?

A: I’ve done a little in the past, only in as far what I’m doing on this, which is providing the basis for the story and riding herd over it. I used to read comics when I was younger — I’m more into full fledged novels now. But the illustrated novel has its place.

Q: What does that mean?

A: A follow-up question — good for you. In lieu of using your own imagination entirely, this can help you get into the art of reading. Hopefully then you’ll pick up a copy of the original, or even better, pick up a good novel.

Q: You recently wrote a Star Trek novel, Collision Course, about Kirk and Spock’s early days. Was this a response to J.J. Abrams’ movie in any way?

A: No this preceded that. Collision Course was an attempt to make a history for the young Captain Kirk and Spock. It was my concept of how it all began. Paramount allowed me to go my own way, but what they didn’t do was publicize the book. So it kind of hung there, but at least my history of the early years is now out.

Q: So what’s this feud with J.J. Abrams really all about?

A: There’s more of a game going on than most people realize. The game reached its apex when J.J. said somewhere on-camera “When did my life become William Shatner talking to me on YouTube?”

Q: That one was kind of my fault — you were responding to my interview with J.J.

A: Really? [Laughs]. That made the whole thing worthwhile to me. I laughed out loud because that was the whole idea, to goad him into some kind of reaction — to manipulate the airwaves to get to him. It was really just for fun, and he obviously got it: It’s a public love letter to J.J., and I hope he’s laughing as much as I am because I’m having a delightful time.

Q: Have you seen the new trailer?

A: I haven’t. Does it look good?

Q: There are actually two Kirks in it. An 8-year-old and Chris Pine.

A: Oh, hysterical. What’s funny is that when they were talking to me before the movie started filming, they showed me a script. They said, “Now don’t tell anybody about the script.” I read it and thought it wasn’t very good, but it turned out it wasn’t the script at all. I think it was a fake script they were giving to people!

Q: Haven’t you been able to get any details out of Leonard Nimoy?

A: Leonard will not speak. And I’ve had him strapped to a chair, I’ve waterboarded him, and he almost told me… but at the last moment the door broke down and the FBI came in. “Waterboarding is not allowed,” they told me. I think I’ve said enough.

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